The Sabres made another questionable signing on Day 2 of free agency

The Buffalo Sabres could have added more reliable organizational depth to their lineup, but instead, they rolled with James Reimer.
Mar 28, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Detroit Red Wings goaltender James Reimer (47) and center Michael Rasmussen (27) come off the ice after the warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Detroit Red Wings goaltender James Reimer (47) and center Michael Rasmussen (27) come off the ice after the warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Sabres needed to add a goaltender for potential organizational depth, but instead, they got James Reimer, a netminder who was part of an ill-fated trio last season in Detroit that also included Ville Husso and Alex Lyon. Of course, Lyon actually had a good year, and Husso proved to be a bust - technically, the Red Wings acquired his signing rights - and Reimer was just about as up and down as one could get.

In 2023-24, Reimer compiled a 3.11 GAA, a 0.904 save percentage, and a quality starts percentage of just 0.450. While this would be about what you would expect from a player vying for organizational depth, the fact is, Reimer provides little more than perhaps a short-term mentor role for the projected young goaltending tandem of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Devon Levi. 

Still, if you’re a Sabres fan, you can’t help but question this signing, as there was one other name out there that would have provided better organizational depth. Someone like Kevin Lankinen caught my eye - you know, the netminder who once allowed a goal that Tage Thompson banked off the boards a couple years ago - would have been perfect. 

Sabres make another underwhelming signing with James Reimer

Something I like about Kevin Lankinen is that he’s already hit his ceiling as an NHLer, and he’s a player who I would trust far more than Reimer to step right in and provide sound insurance in the event of an injury or a demotion - say the Sabres feel Devon Levi could use another season in the AHL. 

Lankinen performed admirably for a bad Chicago Blackhawks team before he spent the last two seasons as Juuse Saros’ backup with the Nashville Predators. Last season, he posted a 0.908 save percentage and a 2.82 GAA in 24 games, providing a strong No. 2 option when Saros wasn’t having his greatest season. That said, if Levi were to once again head to Rochester and develop, I would have trusted Lankinen far more than I would trust Reimer.

While Lankinen did have an AAV of $2 million during his time in Nashville, it’s highly unlikely he will get the same in 2024-25 unless there’s a team out there that desperately needs a backup. But overall, Lankinen is someone the Sabres could have brought in on a cheap contract; he would have known the situation, and would have been reliable in Rochester, perhaps for multiple seasons, if needed. 

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